Logo by   Kyle Mishibinijima, an upcoming young Anishinaabe artist from Wikwemikong First Nation.

Logo by Kyle Mishibinijima, an upcoming young Anishinaabe artist from Wikwemikong First Nation.

Public Interest School 2016
Workshops & Presenters

Anti-Violence & Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit People by Bridget Tolley

Bridget Tolley is an Algonquin grandmother from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Quebec, Canada. Her mother Gladys Tolley was struck and killed by a police car in October 2001. Bridget is a committed activist in the family-led movement to end violence and the disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls. She is also active in social justice causes causes related to police violence (a founding member of the Justice for the Victims of Police Killings Coalition in Montreal), Indigenous education, housing and child welfare.

Blanket Exercise by Theland and Elaine Kicknosway

The Blanket Exercise is a teaching tool that uses participatory popular education to raise awareness of the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. It teaches a history of Canada that most people never learn.

Theland Kicknosway is an incredible young man. At 12 years old, the Pottawatami Cree youth from Walpole Island is already a valued and trusted leader in the Indigenous community in Ottawa and beyond. Theland is a traditional drummer, singer, and hoop dancer who shares Creator’s gifts with the community at FSIS’s (Families of Sisters in Spirit) anuual October 4th and February 14th healing ceremonies and vigils honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirits (MMIWG2).

Elaine Kicknosway, Theland's mother, is Wolf Clan, originally from Northern Saskatchewan, and a member of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. She is a singer, women’s traditional dancer, participant in ceremonies and ongoing learner. Elaine supports and helps within drumming circles, ceremonies, talking circles, discussion related to intergenerational impacts of residential school and how child welfare has impacted the family today.

Decolonizing Gender aka Gender Fabulousnous by Alexa Lesperance

Join us for some gentle learning and fun interactive activities, to get us thinking about various understandings of Indigenous genders & sexualities! Activities include gender hopscotch, and creating our own DIY patches about what #DecolonizingGender means to you.

Alexa Lesperance is a Youth Facilitator for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. She is Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from the makwa (bear) clan and is from Naotkamegwanning First Nation located in Northwestern Ontario. She is currently an undergrad in the Directed Interdisciplinary Studies program at Carleton University with a specialization in reproductive health, rights and justice. She is also working towards becoming an Indigenous practitioner.

Decolonizing the Sex Work Movement by Naomi Sayers

This workshop will examine the narratives dominating the sex work movement and deconstruct these narratives to help move away from a model which criminalizes Indigenous peoples in the sex trade to shift the discussion that centers the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the sex trade, away from criminalization. The workshop will provide a brief history of prostitution legislation and law reform in Canada. The workshop will also include active participation through games and art.

Naomi Sayers is an indigenous feminist, sex work activist and currently, she is in her second year of the English common law program at the University of Ottawa, and she graduated from Western University with an honours specialization in criminology and a minor in women's studies. Naomi is the founder of South Western Ontario Sex Workers and she is a part of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Naomi enjoys community organizing and community building. She is also a strong believer in working collaboratively within and across communities, especially with other criminalized/over-policed communities, to help build support networks and to help build capacity. Naomi writes at www.kwetoday.com and has written for Ottawa Citizen, The Globe and Mail, and Now! Magazine.

Right Relationships: Black & Indigenous Peoples by Zainab Amadahy

This workshop will explore what right relationship looks between these two communities.  How does this relationship benefit both communities?  Are our communities ready and willing? What are the challenges and how do we get past them? What are the signs we’re ready to enter into relationship? Toward what end?  There are no one-size-fits-all answers but we can certainly begin dreaming the better future for all of us.  Note: This workshop is only open to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour participants only.

Zainab Amadahy is an author, self-empowerment facilitator and professional development consultant.  Her heritage is a mix of African American, Cherokee, Seminole and European. Zainab’s background in medical and photovoltaic technologies as well as community service in the areas of Indigenous knowledge reclamation, curanderismo, non-profit housing, women’s services, migrant settlement and community arts inform her work. Links to Zainab’s articles, essays and other literary work can be found on her website: www.swallowsongs.com.

Spirituality - More Not Less by Albert Dumont, Spiritual Advisor, Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg

Akikodjiwan and other areas of concern to the spiritual well-being of human beings as seen through the lens of an Algonquin spiritual advisor.

Since November 2013 Albert Dumont works as Elder for the Parole Board of Canada atElderAssisted Hearings. He was employed by Correctional  Services Canada for three years as a spiritual advisor for the Aboriginal men incarcerated at Millhaven Institution located near Kingston, ON. He is an activist, a volunteer and a poet who has published 5 books of poetry and short stories. In recognition for his work as an activist and volunteer on his ancestral lands (Ottawa and Region) Albert was presented with a Human Rights Award by the Public Service Alliance of Canada in 2010. Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Aboriginal spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Aboriginal Peoples particularly those as they affect the young.

Screening and Artist Talk with Ariel Smith

Filmmaker Ariel Smith will present a screening of her experimental shorts and speak about the themes addressed in her work, as well as her creative process and how her lived experiences with difference and marginilization have formed the basis for much of her artistic practice. She will also discuss her work as a programmer and Indigenous media arts advocate within the National Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC) and the imagineNative Film and Media Arts Festival.



Tresspassed Lands/Transgressed Bodies
2014/5min15 sec

These 3 works are excerpts from an ongoing series of site specific, single channel video installations examining gentrification's relationship to colonization and the policing of urban Aboriginal person's access to sacred spaces & ceremony.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Your Vagina Dentata

Doll Parts

Little girl/ugly girl/not bad/ just evil girl

All three of these works are normally seen as loops within the context of separate video based installations.  In these pieces appropriated source video is reinterpreted and re-contextualized.  Issues of feminine monstrosity, sexual assault victim blaming, and demonic possession at the onset of first menses are explored, troubled and critiqued. 

Target Girls

Target Girls recalls symbolic representations of woman as sacrifice in order to illustrate correlations between misogyny, self hatred and heartbreak.  Through a feminist lens, drawing inspiration from early 20th century circus iconography, melodrama, expressionist cinema and surrealism, the magician’s lovely assistant is used as a dark metaphor to explore just what it, means to give it all up for your man. 

Bio: Ariel Smith (Nêhiyaw) is a filmmaker, video artist, writer and cultural worker currently based on unceded Algonquin territory, Ottawa,Ontario. She has shown at festivals and galleries internationally including: Images (Toronto),Mix Experimental Film Festival (NYC), Urban Shaman (Winnipeg), MAI (Montreal), Gallery Sans Nom (Moncton), Solid Screens (Cairns, Australia) and Cold Creation Gallery (Barcelona, Spain.). Her film Saviour Complex (2008) was nominated for Best Experimental at the 2008 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. Ariel’s Video Swallow (2002) was the winner of the Cynthia Licker Sage Award at the 2004 ImagineNative Film Festival, and Jury Third prize at the 2003 Media City Festival of Experimental Film and Video.

Ariel is interested in the political and social forces that affect the lives of girls and women and investigates these themes in her work. In particular her work depicts the crossing of personal boundaries, into situations of transgression and abuse. As an artist she uses both surrealist and expressionist aesthetic strategies, as well as the recalling of classic horror genre cinema, to explore the often-terrifying reality of growing up female. At once darkly humorous, campy, disturbing, visceral and unapologetically feminist, her film and videos are anti-essentialist, tongue- in-cheek commentaries which embody the grotesque feminine, while at the same time challenge the negative colonial-patriarchal perception of the feminine-as monstrous.

She has written essays and articles on the subjects of Indigenous media arts as self determination and Indigenous media arts as response to gendered colonial violence for Concordia University, The Ottawa Art Gallery, The Ottawa International Animation Festival, Bitch Flicks, and the Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society journal.

Ariel was the Technical Director at SAW Video Media Arts Centre from 2008-2014.  She is a programmer and arts educator for the largest Indigenous film festival in the world,imagineNATIVE film and media arts festival.

Ariel is active in Indigenous media arts advocacy and administration and is currently the director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC).

Noongom Screening and Discussion with Gabrielle Fayant and Josh Lewis

Noongom (Algonquin for "today") is a local television show that highlights the impact that a new generation of Aboriginal Peoples are making on the National Capital Region. Host Gabrielle Fayant showcases the work and creativity of Ottawa’s local Aboriginal youth, offering a fresh perspective that’s filled with humour and history. From large celebrations to homelessness, Noongom explores different cultures and stereotypes head-on to help people better understand what it means to be Aboriginal in Ottawa today.

The second epsiode of Noongom is about homelessness and the unique struggles Indigenous people face living in poverty. The episode showcases Shawenjeagamik, also known as 510 Rideau which is an Indigenous drop-in centre in Ottawa, and the personal stories of Indigenous people facing severe poverty and homelessness today.

Gabrielle is the co-founder of a youth-led and youth-driven organization called Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G) and Program Manager of an economic youth program called ReachUp! North in partnership with Digital Opportunity Trust. She has worked for a number of National Aboriginal Organizations such as the National Association of Friendship Centres, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, and has experience on a number of local, regional, and national advisory committees and councils, such as the Canadian Commission of UNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group, Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee, and Walking With Our Sisters Ottawa Youth Committee. Gabrielle also serves as a board member for the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, and she sings with a female drum group called Spirit Flowers and as backup for a men’s drum group called O-Town Boyz.

Josh Lewis is a self-taught Anishinaabe singer/songwriter from Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation. He sings original songs and covers a variety of artists from Johnny Cash to The Weeknd. He works at Shawenjeagamik (510 Rideau) through Odawa Native Friendship Centre. He also collaborates with several youth organizations and initiatives such as Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Assembly of Seven Generations and Canadian Roots Exchange.